One of the great things about a blog versus a print publication is the ability to include links. Today I came across a super link that’s guaranteed to bring back lots of memories for those of us who came of age in the fifties and sixties.
My odyssey began with link from Thelly Rheam in a post to the Life Story Writing YahooGroup. Thelly sent us to the When Life Was Black and White page, which features a flash video about black and white t.v. This site has buttons along the bottom that take you to lots of other memory trigger sites. The one that appealed to me the most linked to the Old Forty Fives page, which has lots of links of its own. Rather than describe it to you, I’ll simply urge you to surf on over.
As I write this The Big Bopper is on that website speakin’ about what he likes: “Chantilly Lace, a pretty face, and a pony tail, hanging down…” Suddenly I’m back in 1958 (verified by the Top 100 Songs of 1958 list on the site). I’m in my freshman year of high school, wearing a 100% wool sheath skirt (slacks were never an option for girls at our school in my day, not even on the snowiest days—but we could wear leotards to keep our legs warm), an orlon sweater and black flat shoes with no socks or hose (pantyhose and knee highs weren’t even a dream yet, and nylons were far too expensive to wear to school). I’m walking down the hall between the wings of classrooms during a break, heading to my locker to change books, and hating the stares and adolescent noises from the line of boys sitting on the window sills along the way. But I do keep my eye peeled for a glimpse of a certain sophomore fellow….
I think of fresh snowfalls in the mountains, and how much I loved the snow back when it meant sledding, snowball fights and ice skating, but not shoveling, and not freedom from school. In the mountains of New Mexico in the fifties and sixties there was no such thing as snow days. Snow was a fact of life. We put on extra mittens, head scarves, galoshes and tire chains and dealt with it. Thinking of blowing snow and winter winds, I remember my red corduroy car coat with the corded toggle button closing, my zippered three ring binder with the orange plaid cover design, and the piles of textbooks I piled atop it.
I think of the excitement of after school activities, whether that was drama club, foreign language club, orchestra or any of the other dozen things I was involved in. Then there was walking home from school, alone or with friends. This was way before iPods, Walkmen, or other personal entertainment devices (although I did get a pocket-size transistor radio for my birthday in 1959 that ran on a 9-volt battery), so I had half an hour to think without distraction if I walked the two miles alone.
Other songs bring back memories of parties, people, clothing, classes, daydreams and so much more. I nearly always had the radio on when I was alone in my room, studying, sewing or reading. I haven’t listened to it so much since, but the hit parade was a defining element of my life back then.
What about you? Did music shape your youth? What memories does it trigger for you? Find out more about music and demographic data of the times at Old Forty Fives.com, Take Me Back To the Fifties, and associated pages on this glorious site. That should get your fingers flying and ink flowing!
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal